Why are we given the gift of empathy
Survival of the World

I recently got into a discussion with a Coven mate, regarding the reason for the gifts we have. In this case empathy, but there are many others.

Here's a little bit of what we had to say about the whole subject in general.

Of what purpose is being able to literally feel as your neighbor feels ?

Well if we all could really feel another's feelings, could we hurt each other as we do ? I think not. In the days gone by, this skill was much more common place, when the world was much smaller.

If one was a hunter gatherer, even in this day and age you would find this skill in place. Why ? Because what better skill to have when one is going out to hunt the meat for the tribes dinner. You could coordinate your movements with your fellow hunters without having to talk and spook the game, and could tell if something was sneaking up on YOU to make you dinner !

Very useful and practical skill when you look at it that way :) Especially avoiding being eaten !

Now take that sense one step further and take it back to the home site of this tribe, in the cave or village. One would have to have a high degree of empathy for your fellows as you depended on each other for survival, and would respect their needs and wants as your own as they were the same as your own.

Any tribe that didn't have this, didn't last long enough to reproduce for long as they had to have that empathy for each other to work together,  to gather enough to eat, so they faded into the unknowns of history.

So by natural selection people who could get along, meaning had natural empathy for each other and helped each other survive ... thrived ... those who didn't ... died off.

Now along the way however, most of the world has lost a lot of that. Ok why ? Did everybody come down with a bad case of dontgiveadamnitits ? Not really, they moved away from the land and in the process each other and the divine in all things. When the world started to get a little more crowded, people began to think in terms of taking the good lands from their fellows. As there was only so much good land available.. the "grass is greener " on the other side of the fence philosophy.

Mans answer to that aggression, was to fort up.. and gather into urban communities for protection. As a single man and family on the farm was vulnerable..a whole walled community was another matter. Without even getting into the mind set that would allow man to attack his fellows.. think of what this action did.

What this did, is remove man from the land. If you buy your fruit at a market, it's hard to consider the tree from which it came, unless your one of the farmers... and so it goes .. the more urban the society the more removed from the land. Which also meant to make a living now meant personal pursuits as individuals, so what you need to live and what your neighbor needs are different.

So we no longer depended on our fellows directly to live.

Not to mention started thinking that perhaps all men where not worthy our regard, after all you forted up to protect yourself from those who wanted to take what you had. This is just greed, another ill man developed when he stopped feeling another's feelings. And stopped working together, in fact most of what we call ills, can be traced to this lack of connectedness with our fellow man.

All of this served to distance man away from that connection with each other and the land on which we stand. Which is why we can and do hurt each other and the land itself as we do...we no longer feel another's needs as our own.

The word Pagan means " country dweller" in the country meaning the farm lands, one still felt the hand of the divine in all things. With a deity name for everything. If one had to deal with a named deity for each seed you planted, each bucket of water from the well, each fruit you plucked from the tree.. you would spend your day.. your whole life, as a walking prayer to the divine. Which is why they held to the old ways for so long.

Now, would this happen in the cities ? No.. Unless one was devoted and made a point to give proper respect this was lost and replaced with a merchants concerns.. Man started to think of the concept of God in terms of himself and his own needs, which now didn't depend on the land directly or even that many of his fellows.

God became someone you visited at the temple .. not an entity you interacted with daily for all things. Somewhere the Divine became something apart from man, a being removed from the reality of life.

In the study of religions this is called God as transcendent VS God as immanent. There are lots of schools of thought on how this happened or when this happened and why.

But if you look at just the simple fact of being removed from a day to day interaction with the Divine for your very life, VS a merchant mind set which views all fellow humans in terms of "are they a client or not" and sees all raw materials of the Earth as something to be converted into a product to sell to make ones living , it's not that hard to see what happened.

Did this happen over night ? No of course not, but it did happen.. and that schema is nearly complete now.

So the gifts of empathy and the like are being re-born as they are desperately needed, to re-form that connection to our fellows .. to feel again the connection with the living being that is Gaia of Mother Earth.

We make a point in our rites to honor the elements, to honor all the faces of the divine that make up our world
Seeking the connection with those forces as our ancestors knew them. My most recent as of this pages writing image is of Pagans in the Park holding ritual Called Gracing the Gazebo off site link. Which is a free wallpaper by the way if you are interested. :) hit the link, go off site, and it's yours

This is common sight across American for modern day Pagans, which is why I painted it..

Why is it a common sight ? Because most of us don't have yards to speak of ! We are apartment dwellers for the most part. To walk on real earth, one literally has to go find some to stand on and we do. Why ? Because we know the need to make the connection with Earth and we gather to make that emphatic connection with each other .. in short we make a point to have the sense of Earth and community that much of the world has lost.

Now its neither possible or even desirable to everybody go back to the land, as a lot of attempted farming communes and the like did, say back in the 60's, ( Yes I'm an old hippie.. and quite happy to admit it V ) but they did it for the same reasons, even if all of them didn't know why, but they felt the lack of connection .. they felt the need to live in communities where everyone really cared about each other and worked to aid and support each other. In their own way they were trying to get back, what those of us with the emphatic gifts can feel is missing from our world.

So these old gifts are needed now more than ever before to hold mankind to each other, to where there is mutual respect for your neighbors needs as much as for your own. We on the pathways, work daily to improve these skills of understanding and working with, not against, our fellows and to help them wake up the same skills in the back of their own minds. As these gifts are not dead, merely sleeping, buried under centuries of indifference.

As a race, if we wish to survive as a people and want the planet we live on to continue we must resurrect this skill in all peoples or like the tribes of old.. we will fade into the dust of history. When we grind ourselves and the planet beneath our feet into the ashes on the wind.



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